Specialty Food Magazine

Summer 2018

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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BY JULIE GALLAGHER T he Stage-Gate approach to product development is a lot like playing poker, explained Michelle Jones, execu- tive vice president and chief innovation officer of Stage-Gate International, during the recent Specialty Food Business Summit: Product Development Boot Camp. The Stage-Gate project management methodology is designed to help companies manage risk in stages. "In poker, you get your cards and then decide is this good or bad," she said. "You can wait and see the card before you decide if you'll raise and increase your bet. And you can fold at any time. That is the Stage-Gate approach to decision making. You have to get used to the idea that you may have to fold those cards on certain projects because it may not be worth proceeding with." Making prompt and informed decisions about wheth- er to continue to the next stage of a product development project, or kill it and redirect resources, is the most effi- cient way to accelerate time to profit, according to Jones. "The concept of options-based decision making is you want the right to continue, but not the obligation to," she said. SGI, in partnership with the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association, developed the Innovation Performance Framework, which is a tool for drivers of new product success that is based on a five-year research study of the product innovation performance and practices of companies in the food industry, including specialty food manufacturers. specialty food maker Developing a Product From Idea to Launch If you're going to pursue new products as a strategy, said Jones, become good at these four things: 1. Innovation Strategy. "You have to know where you're going. It's really important to chart out a strategy so that new product efforts will match it," said Jones. 2. Portfolio Management. This involves selecting the best projects to work on and focusing on just a few at a time, in order to get them done. "We presume that all companies have several product ideas at any given time. The trick is to figure out which to pursue now and leave the rest for later. You don't talk about a 300-product portfolio at Apple. Everyone [in the organization] knows what the top five projects are that everyone is consumed with." 3. Culture Leadership. "This has a lot to do with risk and managing risk and balancing it. It's hard to pursue innovation if you're not willing to assume some risk," she noted. 4. Stage-Gate. "This is a process that we introduced to take concepts from idea to launch," said Jones. "Part of why we designed Stage-Gate is for companies that say 'I want to pursue innovation but because of the risk, my company would suffer' and so Stage-Gate is all about managing risk." 140 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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